Monday, July 23, 2007

Linux, *Shudder*

On a whim, I installed Kubuntu 7.04 on my Averatec 3250 laptop. I had read a lot of comments to the effect that it was a fabulous alternative to Windows Vista, and that all of those silly anti-Linux criticisms were utterly baseless (baseless I say!) in view of the great strides Ubuntu had made toward user-friendliness.

I will confess that my first reaction to Kubuntu, once it was rather quickly installed and running on my laptop, was one of awe and delight. XP Pro had atrophied to a crawl in spite of my legendary skills in spywayre/virus/temp/startup removal, registry cleanup, chkdisk'ing, and defragging. Kubuntu was, in contrast, an absolute champion of performance. Everything was so unbelievably responsive. I smiled at the "bouncy thingies" that appeared by my pointer every time I loaded a program.

But then I noticed that my wireless card wasn't working.

And not only was it not working; it's not-working-ness was unrelated to the Linux pro's usual refain: "It's the manufacturer's fault for not giving us good drivers." No, in fact, there were plenty of Linux drivers for my laptop's RaLink1500 wireless card; indeed, previous users of Ubuntu had reported lots of success. There's the rub: something is wrong with version 7.04. The Feisty Fawn is Foiled.

Now, the fact wrestling with this took a day and a half and a half-dozen failed attempts to fix the problems (all of which, I assure you, gave me a much unwanted crash course in the musty wilderness of the Linux command-line interface), by itself, might not have deterred me. But a number of other things did, in fact, persuade me to kick the dust off my feet and run back to Mother Microsoft.
  • I looked in vain amid the online documents, the forums, and the glitch reports for the so-called "community" that enthusiasts assured me would be my friendly, free support group. What I found was the same elitist ghetto that was firmly entrenched when I had tried Linux a few years ago. Explain terminology that might be unfamiliar to a Windows user? UNTHINKABLE! Sink or swim you Microsoft maggot. We all got here by sweat and blood and by golly, you're going to do the same!
  • I expect Linux to be different and thus just a little uncomfortable. I understand that it would be unfair to blame all of my troubles on objective defects in the operating system. But that argument can only be taken so far. I mean, come on now, just look at the directory tree in the file explorer. How opaque can you get? Where the heck are the executables? In Windows, they're in a folder called "Program Files." Who knew?
  • As ironic as it is, the way Linux is built, Ubuntu does new users a disservice by trying to hide the command line as much as possible. Why? Because the command line will always be there. There's no avoiding it. Better to make sure that everybody knows this fact going in, and equipping them with the tools to navigate it, than to make disingenuous "just-like-Windows!" promises that can't be kept. When I go into Kubuntu, and get stuck with a problem that needs the command line, and my only help are the Klingon speaking experts on the Web, you know where that leaves me? In a word, PWND.
As an aside, it was after using Kubuntu's disk burning software that my laptop's DVD-RW drive breathed its last and gave up its spirit. Maybe I shouldn't blame the death of my optical drive on Linux, but I do anyway.

So, with some sadness, I wipe my laptop's hard drive clean and fitfully reinstall Windows XP Home (I copied the disk onto a bootable 2GB USB flash drive). I still scrub away the remnants of the GRUB bootloader even after a reformat (irritating). So long, Linux. Let me know when you're not a ghetto anymore.

1 comment:

Suzanna said...